Salmon focused on Sydney podium
Melbourne Performance Centre Audi R8 LMS ultra
Rnd#4, Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW (12-14 July)
“This may be my best chance yet to make the AGT podium,” Melbourne Performance Centre/Skwirk.com.au Audi R8 LMS GT3 ultra pilot Rod Salmon admitted ahead of his ‘home’ race in the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli at Sydney Motorsport Park [SMP] this weekend.
“I know the track, and I love racing at home, it always seems to give me that little bit of extra momentum, and after dominating the most recent State Series round there in the Skwirk.com.au Audi a few weeks ago, I think we’re in a pretty good position.
“Then there’s my secret weapon..!”
After contesting the Phillip Island round of the championship with multiple Australian Formula 3 Champion James Winslow sharing the driving duties, Rod felt that adding the popular Englishman to the team at Sydney may not play out as well in his favour.
“I like James, and am happy to help support his career where I can, and I didn’t enjoy telling him he had the weekend off, but the penalty he brings with him as a ‘Pro’ driver adds a huge time penalty to our compulsory pit stop [CPS], so I needed to find someone with great pace, but no penalty, and I think we have just the solution..”
That solution comes in the form of Nathan Antunes, a professional driver trainer at SMP and a regular with the Sydney-based Radical outfit, but unknown to some, Antunes has international open-wheel experience (including being a part of the Red Bull Junior Team in Formula Renault Eurocup at the same time as Sebastien Vettel), and was a top karter during his formative years in Australia.
“It’s been a few years since I competed actively,” Antunes explained, “but it’s in my blood, so I have rarely been far from the action, and to keep my foot in the door. Recently I’ve turned the experience I had overseas into a role as a driver trainer, which is what I’ve been doing over the last couple of years at Eastern Creek.
“I’ve tested some Ferrari GT3 cars in the past, and came close to securing a drive, but up until I met Rod at a Radical drive day, I hadn’t had the opportunity to compete in a current-spec GT car, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
“Because he hasn’t competed at the top level for a number of years, he doesn’t attract a penalty as a ‘seeded’ driver,” Salmon confirmed, “but he almost lives at Eastern Creek and walks the track at least twice a week in his role as an instructor, so there’s not too many people that know the venue better.”
“At the end of the day my role is to bring the car home as best I can in a position that will aid Rod’s championship,” Nathan acknowledged. “This may just be a one-off for me, and I feel honoured to have had the opportunity, especially in such a competitive team.
“Having worked with Rod during the state series round, I think we’re good enough for a podium, but my top priority is to bring the car back the way I’m handed it, so we’ll see how the weekend plays out.”
Opening practice begins on Friday, July 12 at 10:25am followed by a second session at 1:40pm and a third at 2:55pm. Qualifying kicks off at 11:25am on Saturday (July 13), with the opening one-hour race scheduled for 1:55pm. Sunday’s second one-hour race will begin at 12:15pm.
2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli
Championship points (after three rounds of six)
1. Klark Quinn (195 points), 2. Tony Quinn (141), 3. Roger Lago (135), 4. Craig Baird (133), 5. Edwards/Bowe (118), 6. Koutsoumidis/McInnes (115), 7. Justin McMillan (111), 8. Jack Le Brocq (110), 9. Jim Manolios (70), 10. Christian Klien (70), 11. Rod Salmon (65), 12. Andrew Taplin (59), 13. Van Gisbergen/Kingsley (54), 14. Simonsen/Salo (50), 15. James Winslow (42), 16. Murphy/Capelli (37), 17. Middleton/O’Young (30), 18. Richards/Lilley (28), 19. Slade/Holdsworth/Hackett (26), 20. Mok Weng Sun/Griffin (25), 21. Lowndes/Luff (21), 22. Roloff/Schneider/Jaeger (19), 23. Russell/Kox (16) Live streaming will be available by; www.thenationals.com.au (Sunday, from 9:00am)
Keep track of round four of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli via the AGT website - www.australiangt.com.au and via Facebook; AustralianGT
The fourth round of the Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli will be televised on SBS Speedweek on Sunday, August 4 from 2:00pm AEST (check local guides for confirmation).
2013 Australian GT Championship presented by Pirelli - calendar
Rnd#1, 8-10 February - Bathurst 12-Hour, NSW
Rnd#2, 28 Feb - 3 March - Clipsal, Adelaide, SA
Rnd#3, 24-26 May - Phillip Island, Victoria
Rnd#4, 12-14 July - Sydney Motorsport Park, NSW
Rnd#5, 2-4 August - Queensland Raceway, Ipswich, QLD
Rnd#6, 8-10 November - Highland Motorsport Park, NZ
Melbourne Performance Centre is proudly supported by Skwirk.com.au, One World Bar, The Audi Race Experience, PH Motorsport Trailers - supplier of the new Audi Sports Customer racing transporter, BluFi Wireless Australia, Questek Australia and Top Gun Restorations.
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